Did we say we love FamCamps? Yes, we did. And our stay at Blue Angels Park in Pensacola reaffirmed our belief. There are two campgrounds associated with the Blue Angels. We stayed “off base” at the Blue Angels Campground on Bronson Road. This area includes a primitive campsite as well as, Anchor Cove and Battlecreek Row. Anchor Cove ($14) has 83, 30 amp/water sites on packed sand. The area is on Perido Bay and is very shaded.
We chose to stay in Battlecreek Row which offers spacious concrete pads, 30 or 50 amp, water and sewer for $7 more. This area also overlooks the bay, across a 100 yard concrete slab. There are clean bath/rest rooms, and laundries available. You are steps from the bay and have access to a number of activities including: disc golf, paintball, canoe/kayak/sailboat rentals, and bike rentals. After setting up, we took our granny bikes for a leisurely ride, and then walked down to the bay with cocktails in hand to watch the sunset.
In the morning we drove about 15 minutes onto the base to tour the Naval Aviation Museum. We had previously visited a museum at Warner Roberts AFB, and had a very nice 2-3 hour visit. We scheduled 3 hours for today’s visit, and found we needed at least another day!
We were disappointed that the IMAX theatre is closed for renovations until March, but we were able to join a guided tour done by a retired Navy pilot who was very informative and willing to answer any question. The tour covered the history of naval aviation. We saw the first plane capable of operating off a ship and thus compelling the Navy to build the Langley, its first air craft carrier. The Langley was only 400 feet long, could store 20 planes, had a top speed of 12 knots and had 25 crew. Compare this with today’s carriers which you could water ski behind and have a crew of 7000.
We saw WWI planes that were lubricated by Castor Oil. We learned that the pilots wrapped scarfs around their faces to minimize the oil fumes that would cause them to make a hasty retreat after their mission. We saw the plane that completed the first trans-Atlantic voyage in 1919. Three identical planes attempted the voyage, but only one made it. The plane had a maximum distance of 400 miles. So ships were stationed every 50 miles, to not only refuel the plane but to act as directional markers since GPS had not been invented in 1919. It was fun facts like these that made the guided tour so enjoyable.
After the tour, we walked to the Annex which includes the presidential helicopter, the first lunar lander, a Blue Angels 4D simulation theatre, a Vietnam POW exhibit, an exhibit dedicated to female naval aviators and much, much more. I enjoyed the 4D simulation of the Blue Angels, though Denise took a pass. Upon our return, and we will return, neither of us will pass on the flight simulators, the newly renovated IMAX theatre or the restaurant modeled after the former Cubi Point in the Philippines.
The museum is free, though donations are welcome and is a must stop if you travel through Pensacola. One final note, about one block from the museum is yet another RV campground: Oak Grove. With 51 full hookup sites at $23/night this could be our next stop when we travel through Pensacola again.